Kenya Launches 'Major' Assault on Mall, Death Toll Hits 68

Security forces plan to end standoff tonight

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 22, 2013 2:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – The death toll in the deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall has risen to 68, according to the Red Cross, after the bodies of nine hostages were recovered today. Red Cross volunteers believe there are more bodies still inside the mall, but they're not reachable at the moment, Reuters reports. Kenyan government sources say there are about 30 hostages still being held inside the mall by gunmen believed to be al-Shabaab militants, reports CNN. Security forces say they have just launched a "major" assault on the mall, and plan to bring an end to the standoff tonight, the AP reports. "Our forces will prevail," Kenya's Disaster Operations Centre tweeted. "Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win."

In related news Stateside, Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, claimed on ABC's This Week show this morning that al-Shabaab had recruited up to 50 members from Somali communities in the US, with between 15 and 20 of those people still active in the group "I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somali-American communities today ... to make sure that there is no follow up attempt here in the United States," he said. Meanwhile, President Obama has called Kenyan President Kenyatta to express his condolences, and offer US support for bringing the attackers to justice, USA Today reports.

Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive after dawn outside the Westgate Mall.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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